We are seasoned cruisers with the RCCL product in our late forties/early fifties.
Embarkation: as others have described there was up to a 3 hour delay to board once checked in. The two ladies in charge performed the heroic feat of keeping nearly 3000 people calm and organized and provided regular updates. Gawd love em - they were chasing the line cutters to the back of the room and did their best to provide a first come first serve (by class) for boarding. I didn't envy them their task. Overall the best they could do about a bad situation.
Ship: We love the solstice class - although older than Silhouette (which we sailed last spring) Equinox holds her own and is in good shape. Understated elegant decor and clean and well maintained.
We arrived to our welcome glass of champagne and given the late hour were able to go straight to our cabin to drop off our carry on. We met our cabin steward and requested the extra towel I need for hair drying and an ice bucket & glasses for our wine. We didn't really see her or her assistant too much throughout the cruise but all our needs were met and our room was always spick and span.
We went immediately to get some food (as we were famished having had a very light breakfast at 5am that morning). [TIP: Knowing the buffet would be a zoo, we opted for the poolside grill burgers and had a very nice lunch on deck away from the crowd]. Burgers were good - very moist and yummy. We visited a few more times over the course of the cruise. After lunch we headed to the stateroom to unpack, freshen up prior to muster drill.
Stateroom: Our stateroom, 6303, is a 2C class balcony - the last portside cabin in the aft hall. Yes its a long walk to the elevators but we don't mind the exercise. It has a deeper balcony which is extended slightly by the roof of the restaurant below. So you have no view directly down but completely unobstructed looking outward - it is a very quiet private cabin and [TIP: I would book it again for the balcony if you are not upgrading to aqua or concierge classes and don't mind the walk]. The stateroom provides adequate storage space in the closet but cupboard/drawer space is meager on this class. I am happy to have a 6'3" DH who can reach things from the overhead bins! The bathroom is HUGE by cruise standards with a nice glass shower door, oodles of drawers and shelving for all your personal products. The TV is flat screen and had movies on demand - we loved relaxing at the end of each day with some room service snacks, a glass of wine and a movie. So this was a good perk for us. [TIP Celebrity allows 2 bottles of wine per cabin in your carry on - no corkage if you drink it in the cabin]
Our muster drill was in BLU so while comfortable, it felt loooong with a strange delay in releasing us from the room at the conclusion - maybe it just felt long after the embarkation wait earlier in the day.
Entertainment: We didn't make the entertainment that night as we opted for a nap after sail away. We did make the comedian and wrap up show and they were good for what they were. We didn't see a lot of shows. Entertainment was good on board - the Southside band was very good and we really enjoyed the jazz band (Elaine???). It is nice to have music and intermittent quiet times for relaxing - if you want steel drums nonstop by the pool - you need to go to Royal.
We took in the hot glass show on the day at sea and its impressive what they can do on a moving vessel! really interesting and a good way to while away some time.
Casino: we were looking forward to the casino as we had a stellar time at the casino on Silhouette - sadly the casino manager was pretty much MIA in comparison to Silhouette (He was always there, managing the holdem tables, socializing around the slots and tables, greeting returning guests by name). We missed the guest vs officer holdem tournament - in fact, holdem was empty every time we went by. Slots were looser as we saw a lot of wins and enjoyed some luck ourselves. We had a private slot pull for our CC group which was so much fun. The one later run by the ship was not well organized at all - they should take tips from our CC slot pull organizer as there were ways to cheat allowing last minute participants to join as the slot pull was underway. They closed the casino at 1230am on the last night of the cruise???? This was a shock as it was so early and there were still a fair amount of players - we are used to 2-3am close.
Spa & Fitness: I took in two personal training sessions while on board. Daniel was amazing. He gave the perfect balance of pushing the envelope but stayed within my abilities. Great stretch at the end and provided some good info on pamphlets he provided. This was money very well spent and pricing was in-line with what I spend for my trainer home.
Excursions: We did private tours in port and all were amazing - I will provide separate reviews under the port boards. Highlights were Silvermoon Cat in Barbados and Levi Bumpiing Middleham Hike in Dominica.
Food: We were late seating in MDR. Select dining and specialty has eroded the traditional dining experience leaving many tables empty. Our table of 6 was empty the entire cruise. Luckily we recognized our CC friends at a table for four next to us and they told us their tablemates switched to an earlier seating - we moved on the third night and had great company and service. The food was good but "pull out the stop moments" are long gone - bananas foster flambeed table side, the baked Alaska parade, lobsters/shrimp shelled for you by the headwaiter are all things of the past and sadly I doubt they will return. The MDR food was fine but nothing that made me rave - no standouts except for the Jameson whiskey steak I had on the last night - OMG best meal of the cruise! The steak melted in my mouth! We never made breakfast at MDR but we did have a few lunches that were a better option than the buffet.
The buffet was barely passable. Offerings were often congealed and cold. I opted for fruit/smoked salmon and made to order egg whites for breakfast and tried my best to pick through for something fresh at lunch. This area needs improvement. Our second cruise on Royals Majesty had far better selection, quality and freshness. So some work needed here.
I thoroughly enjoyed the spa buffet in the solarium for breakfast - oatmeal, muesli, yogurt, fruit and fresh muffins were a perfect start to our day. Less chaotic than the main buffet and far better quality. However for lunch the selection was not to the standard I enjoyed on Silhouette last year. So lunch was the grill for burgers, the MDR if open or room service
Room Service: as we had a late seating, we typically ordered some snacks from room service either for lunch on sea days or for a late afternoon snack on port days; this was a good option as it was always hot and fresh. I wish they would add a cheese plate to the menu - although we never asked for it and I expect we could have got one if we asked.
Drinks: our MDR Sommelier was superb and attentive - one of the best I've ever had! He was fantastic at selecting wine to match my meal and attentive even though I was only ordering by the glass.
I had looked forward to a chocolate martini but the one I had was not all that great so I didn't bother ordering any more. I stuck to cosmos, prosecco and wine for the balance of the cruise.
Fellow Cruisers: I must say there was a marked absence of the bad behaved boorish lout this cruise. Everyone seemed relaxed and pleasant and polite. We didn't encounter any irritation and had a very enjoyable time interacting with our fellow guests. Children were rare but when encountered incredibly well behaved. It was an older cruise but that doesn't bother us.
Officers: the captain was front and centre this cruise - he is everywhere and very interactive. Lots of photo ops and handshakes were observed. The "captains club" parties were well attended with good representation by the officers. Great food and drink there and the entertainment was excellent.
Disembarkation: we did well as we were among the first groups called @830am. the customs lines were long but moved well. We were out waiting for our car service in about 45 minutes fairly good considering a good portion of that was the immigration (abut 30-35 minutes to get through)
Summary: all in all another successful cruise - the few negatives were blips as the positives eclipsed any minor issues. We have booked on Eclipse for next spring and look forward to sailing with Celebrity again!